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China Censors Newsweek Article of Prominent Dissident

Dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei waves from the doorway of his studio after he was released on bail in Beijing, June 23, 2011. Ai was detained in April, igniting an international uproar.

Censors in China have attempted to purge an essay written by prominent artist and dissident Ai Weiwei by manually tearing the pages of the article from a weekly news magazine.

The essay, which appears in the September 5 issue of Newsweek, urges Chinese citizens to speak out against what he says is the government's denial of "basic rights." He also blasts the Chinese judicial system as being untrustworthy.

However, the article was still accessible online to English speakers as of Friday afternoon local time, despite China's vigilant online censorship.

Ai was understood to be barred from speaking to media or leaving Beijing after being released from jail in June. The internationally renowned artist was detained for almost three months after being charged with tax evasion.

Ai's arrest came in the midst of a Chinese crackdown on dissidents that saw dozens of activists and lawyers rounded up just as pro-democracy uprisings were sweeping through the Middle East.

Western governments and human rights groups condemned the arrest, charging that it was a politically motivated response to Ai's outspoken criticism of government actions.

Earlier this month, Ai spoke to the Global Times newspaper at his studio in northeast Beijing. He also posted a series of statements on Twitter in which he denounced the "mental abuse and physical torture" of business colleagues who were arrested along with him.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.